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I go to a meeting that is very poorly run - no agendas, no minutes, no follow-up, lots of tangents, etc. This meeting brings together our IT staff with end users in order to have the IT folks talk about upgrades & other tech stuff, and for the end users to talk about feature requests, business practice changes that may affect other users, etc. The meeting is run (badly) by one of the IT managers. I'm an end user, not in his chain of command at all. These meetings have sucked for years, with no end in sight.

End users are understandably frustrated with these meetings. I have thought of volunteering to be a meeting facilitator in the hopes of having these meetings suck less. I've broached the idea with some of the other end users, and they're supportive. I know that volunteering like this is a little passive-aggressive, and is a little weird in that the IT manager isn't in my chain, but the meetings are important, and would be great for the organization if they could just be run well.

Pitfalls? Should I banish the thought? Similar experiences? Thanks!

jhack's picture

Tricky situation. Advice below depends on the nature of your relationship with the IT manager. After all, he probably thinks that chatting about the status informally is a good way of filling you in on important facts.

Trying to take over the meeting might go very badly. You could take notes yourself, verify them, and then review them the next week. I've definitely taken the initiative at other people's meetings to say out loud the actions (who will do what by when) and made sure that the person agrees.

Have you asked the IT manager if he's happy with the meeting? You could meet with him (just the two of you) and discuss how the meeting could better meet the needs of both groups. Don't make it personal, make it about results. He might be just as frustrated. Then you could talk about collaborating on an agenda, etc.

Make sure your actions are towards the goal of meeting.

John

tboegel's picture

I don't think he much cares or is aware that he's ineffective. I'm in a public institution, where the IT staff are civil service employees. There are few, if any, ramifications for being ineffective.

svgates's picture

[quote="tboegel"]I don't think he ... is aware that he's ineffective.[/quote]

[url]http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/health/011800hth-behavio...

jhack's picture

While assuming he's unaware of his effectiveness...and maybe doesn't care...the question remains:

What can be done?

John

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="tboegel"]brings together our IT staff with end users in order to have the IT folks talk about upgrades & other tech stuff, and for the end users to talk about feature requests, business practice changes that may affect other users, etc. [/quote]

Ok. So it sounds like an advisory committee. That said, one change is to rotate the leadership of the committee among the departments represented (say every six months.) Secondly, whoever leads the committee must shift the discussion from strictly technical matters to process improvements.

In short, the committee must take ownership of process improvements rather than letting technical matters drive the discussion.

I am with jhack on this one. Approach the *busy* IT manager and collaborate on an agenda...(an MT agenda?) because I am willing to bet there is at least ONE process improvement that has nothing to do with IT and instead involves 2 or 3 departments agreeing on a standard. That way the first meeting, using the new tactic, involves non-technical issues.

Hopefully everyone will feel like they have accomplished something at the end of the meeting...because they have.

HMac's picture

[quote="jhack"]You could take notes yourself, verify them, and then review them the next week. I've definitely taken the initiative at other people's meetings to say out loud the actions (who will do what by when) and made sure that the person agrees.[/quote]

Consider sharing your notes with all the participants following the meeting. That's a subtle way to begin to take over the process, if participants come to rely on you as a source of clarity and understanding for what's going on.

Be a little informal about it - email the notes "just thought I'd share the notes I took for myself, in case any of you might find them helpful..."

-Hugh

FlatFeeKing's picture

HMac i have to agree with you on this, it will be much helpful that you did that, i mean mailing with "just thought I'd share the notes I took for myself, in case any of you might find them helpful..."

US41's picture

Do it. Take a chance on success.

thaGUma's picture

tboegel, I agree - but don't volunteer in advance. Take control during the meeting as a reaction to whats going on. Capitalise on everyone else's feelings of non action.

I think I favour you strepping up to chair the meet rather than facilitate.

tboegel's picture

Thanks to all of you for your replies!

We had our latest meeting yesterday, and I made a point of saying things like "So, Steve, you're going to set this meeting up, right?" and "I'm sorry, but can we go back to X? Did we make a decision there?"

The idea of typing up notes and sending them around is a good one.

Thanks again!